To put it lightly, Michigan State football struggled to keep the ball in their possession in a 31-9 loss to the Maryland Terrapins to open the Big Ten season.
While the loss was more competitive than the final score seems to show, MSU coughed up the ball a total of six times. Three on interceptions, twice with fumbles and a turnover on downs.
All together, redshirt junior quarterback Noah Kim totaled two interceptions, redshirt freshman quarterback Katin Houser threw one, redshirt sophomore running back Nathan Carter recorded a fumble and senior wide receiver Alante Brown lost the ball on a kick return in the final minutes. Acting head coach Harlon Barnett, now in his second game in the position, said that while Maryland made plays on the ball, his team has to be more disciplined with the football.
“We have got to value the football,” Barnett said. “We do ball security almost every day with the offense. As the fumbles are concerned, high and tight and so forth. For the interceptions, just understanding that you don’t have to make the hero play so to speak. You can just throw it away. Those guys want to do the right thing. How you correct it is just to understand to throw it away and live to see another day.”
On MSU’s second drive of the game, the Spartans had a chance to punch in an early touchdown after going down 7-0. The fourth down play at the goal line was blown up though, and Carter was unable to escape the Terrapin defense. Redshirt senior center Nick Samac said it just came down to execution.
“They gave us a no-bear front and we have got to be able to pick that up,” Samac said. “We have done that in the past, but I wouldn’t say that’s something we worked on as much this week. Our offensive line coach is one of the best in the country and he’s gone over those things numerous times with us, so it comes down to us. I got to look at the film and see exactly what happened, but the nose tackle dove at my knees which didn’t allow me to get to my linebacker, but I got to see the whole play to see what happened.”
Carter also had a costly fumble in MSU territory that gave way to Maryland’s third touchdown of the first half, and while it was only his first fumble of the season, he said he has to be better for his team.
“Once I watch the film I know I will see some plays that I missed,” Carter said. “I know I could have blocked better or ran the ball through the hole faster. No games are ever perfect. We just have to regroup and grow each and every day.”
Michigan State moves to 2-2 on the season and 0-1 in conference play with the loss. They will play their first road game of the season next weekend at No. 24 Iowa in what should be an even tougher test than this weekend.